How do you train to improve your fatigue resistance? What tips are there for improving your training plan? How does fatigue resistance training differ from normal training?
Last week saw us move from Tenerife back to France for the summer season. Tenerife has been fantastic this winter. I particularly enjoyed the training camps, having not worked last winter, and it was great catching up with the clients again and sharing some of the great rides on the trips.
Riding with Martin, and his group, three times a week has been great fun – a great group of people – and has added a new dimension to the rides that we do there – we wish them all the best for the summer and look forward to catching up with them soon.
Our last ride was a five hour loop which took in the newly laid road up to the crater from the Chio side. This now gives us another road to use when we do a long ride up to the crater on our training camps. We had already done nearly 1000m of climbing when we reached Chio, as usual, and the climb from here is another 25km!!!!
We rode up to the cafe about 7km up this part and stopped for a coffee and to fill up bottles, as this is the last watering hole before the Paradores. Before the road was resurfaced, it was then a badly broken and bumpy road to the top. Not too steep, obviously, but the continual bumps and holes made the rest of the climb feel like you were riding on cobbles! So we never used this route with clients, and rarely ourselves, because of how rough it was.
But what a difference now. The usual super-smooth tarmac they lay here has added another 2km/hr to your average speed up here, and the fantastic views down to the sea and up through the pine forest made this an absolute joy! They still have the last 4km from the top of the climb down to the T junction to do (probably the worst bit!), so we slowed considerably there, but then it was straight in to the 3km climb out of the crater and on to the descent.
We eventually had our second coffee stop in San Miguel, having completed most of the loop, and Jen and I said our goodbyes and headed back home. A lovely day out on the bike in great company and with great weather, and over 2500m of climbing done for the day.
Thursday morning saw us join the queue for the ferry in Santa Cruz and we then spent all of Thursday and most of Friday putting up with the cramped conditions of our ferry crossing. We spend most of the time up on deck with the dogs and just read or work, but the crossing really does drag.
We landed in mainland Spain about 10pm on Friday, spent the night in a hotel and then Saturday was a long day of driving. But we managed to get here early enough to completely unpack on Sunday, and get a short ride in. We had done plenty of riding before we left Tenerife and so were ready to have a break, but the long days of travelling had left both of us with sore, tight legs.
So we needed a leg-loosener on Sunday or the ride on Monday would also be compromised! But both of us felt terrible!
So yesterday was the start of the training here and we hit the road mid-morning for my first training bash, and I really enjoyed the session. We both did some thirty second pieces up a sharp hill here, for an hour, and then completed 75 minutes of ‘through and off’ on an undulating route.
The plan is to work on improving Jen’s FTP and climbing power, and so this type of riding is ideal for this, with frequent surges up to 250 to 260 watts but with short rest intervals in between.
So today’s blog continues the recent theme of fatigue resistance and how you train to improve this.
Training to Improve Your Fatigue Resistance.
In the last two blogs, we have looked at Power Profiles and Fatigue Resistance and how this produces a ‘picture’ of where you are at the moment, and what you need to work on, depending on your goal events.
As with Matt, who we featured last week, Jen is focusing on the Haute Route Ventoux and so needs to handle high powers for long periods of time. So we will focus on preparing specifically for this type of ‘long day in the saddle, long climbs, repeated long efforts’ type of event, which covers most sportives nowadays.
This would be different from training for road-racing, say, and even more so from crit racing and track racing, where there will be more short, sharp efforts and more changes in power.
So to make this nice and simple, consider the training in two ways. We need to improve the power we are putting out for the different lengths of time (especially the longer times if we are doing long events) and then we need to increase the periods of time that we can ride at these powers (fatigue resistance).
And these two goals are achieved in slightly different ways. Say we were wanting to improve our 3 minute to five minute powers ( you will have seen before that we do a lot of this length of interval as it is very time effective if you are squeezing your training into a packed life!), we might do 3 minute intervals BUT with a full recovery in between. This allows you to put out the HIGHEST quality of effort more often and so the stimulus will be on gaining power for this length of time.
But if we wanted to improve our ability to hold this power for longer, we would simply do the same workout but with reduced recoveries. So we might try three minute recoveries between the efforts to start with (this is SO much harder, you will probably only complete three or four before the quality goes, rather than five or six with full recovery) and then possibly reduce the recovery period further!
So this then encourages the body to work at this power for a longer period of time. It may increase your power also, but not as effectively as doing full recoveries. And doing lots of intervals with full recoveries will improve your Fatigue Resistance, but not as effectively as reduced recoveries. And as always, everyone is different and responds to training slightly differently, but we start with the approach that works for most people and then deal with the ‘odd-balls’ afterwards!
Also, if you want to lift your three minute powers, you will also be helped by raising your 30 second powers! Obviously if you want to ride at 400 watts for three minutes, say, this is not going to happen if your 30 second power is only 400 watts, clearly! It can help to think of your powers as being a percentage of your higher powers, so if you are able to produce 60% of your 30 second power for 3 minutes, then once you have achieved that, you will now only improve if your 30 second power goes up!
This ties in neatly with a piece of research done with marathon runners a few years ago. They got a group of marathon runners to sprint for just 20 m and the fastest over the marathon distance were ALSO the fastest over 20 m!!!!! This doesn’t mean that running fast for twenty metres, over and over again, will make you run a good marathon BUT it does show that your training does need to put an emphasis on fast running speed, not just be lots of slow miles!
SO if we are trying to increase the powers we can ride at for longer periods of time, say up a mountain pass, AND be able to do this several times in an event, we need a balance of training that emphasises both parts of the equation. SO if you are trying to increase your fatigue resistance at 60 minutes and 90 minutes, we would still include some efforts that are thirty seconds and three minutes AND then do some longer pieces (maybe 10 to 20 mins) where we either increase the total volume of the workout AND/OR reduce the recovery periods between intervals.
SO we fit these sessions into the two ‘quality’ days of the week, and then spend the rest of the time doing sweetspot riding or recovery riding so that we feel totally fresh and ready for the hard days when they come around. As we have said before, you will not improve to the same extent unless you are totally fresh and ready for your hard sessions. If you try doing these sessions tired, of course they will still be tough sessions but ONLY because you are tired, not because you are setting new PBs!!!
So we have a preference for a couple of workouts, because they have worked well for us in the past! On one of our fast days, we will warm-up and then do an hour which will include some thirty second and three minute efforts, full gas, all up hill. Then, after spinning the legs for up to half an hour, we will then do 8 minute efforts with two minute recoveries.
We might start with three thirty minute climbs, with full recoveries between, and build up to doing two hour long climbs, all done as 8/2s or one long 90 minute climb! And during those 8 minute pieces, we would expect to see powers approaching FTP or even slightly over, but lower than lactate threshold normally. But just focus on holding this for longer and longer periods, whilst the short sharp intervals are trying to raise your FTP also.
And the second workout starts in the same way, with an hour of speed, and then we will do a tough, undulating course (lots of these in the UK) where we will do through and off together, each spending one minute on the front. This is a bit more complicated as both of you need to be about the same strength OR the stronger one of the pair needs to be quite controlled, especially on the hills.
You must NOT try to drop one another! Each change needs to be smooth and allow the other rider to get into the slip stream so you need to think of this as a two-up time trial. What we have done in the past is for me to do two-minute turns and Jen do one minute, but this possibly then has too much recovery for the slower rider!
And you can do this on your own by doing what we used to call ‘overs and unders’. Just do one minute at FTP and then the next minute 20 watts lower, say, and repeat. But we prefer the ‘through and off’ version as it also contains a bike handling element and prepares you for riding in fast groups when the pace changes a little more and you might need to close gaps.
So both these workouts involve long periods of time at the higher end of your aerobic powers, and so create the correct stimulus to improve in this way. The only other ride in the week that puts an emphasis on Fatigue Resistance is our Thursday ride which will be 4 to 6 hours, including several climbs, ridden at the lower end of sweetspot. This will have some effect also.
But the other four days contain rides of 2.5 to 3 hours a the lower end of sweetspot or light/recovery rides so that the fast days are fast! Enjoy!
The Giro has started but the first three days were mostly long, boring days in the saddle with bunch sprints. The GC riders have all got today’s stage in the back of their minds, with the mountain top finish on Etna, and so have generally kept their powder dry. The only brief excitement was on stage 3, at the end, when Quick-Step split the field in the crosswinds, and Thomas nearly made it into the group, but then that only gained a few seconds anyway.
So it is all ready to kick off today, and then the organisers have saved nearly all the tough GC racing for the last week of the race, which is the modern trend in stage race planning. I still think it will be an exciting race once it gets going. The finish today is tough, with nearly 18km at 6.6% average and a maximum of 12%, and several sections of 8 to 10% in the last 5 km.
It should be a clear win for Nairo Quintana, if there hasn’t been a break up the road with a ten minute lead, and people like Thomas will want to lose less than a minute today. With two TTs to come, Quintana may well lose three minutes, and so there is a bit of room to play with here.
But also remember that most of the GC contenders will be focusing on the last week and so may not want to hold the pink for a long period at this point. So if a favourite wins, we may see a break of no-hopers go up the road in the next few days, and the pink jersey being given away for a week or so.
The Week Ahead.
Apart from some training, Jen and I are preparing for our first trip, the Giro third week, for which we leave next Friday, followed closely by our Italian Lakes trip. Three weeks in Italy with some beautiful scenery will be fantastic. Plenty of riding in the Italian Alps and the Dolomites to look forward to. Plus the excitement of seeing the Giro from the roadside! Awesome.
The weather here is looking good, low twenties and mostly dry, so we should be able to get in some climbing here, up to around 1500m, without getting too cold. Other than that, just plenty of work to do – hire bikes to prepare, kit to check through and replace, food to buy, and last minute logistics to organise.
Have a great week everyone.